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People Are Awesome: Japanese Citizens Return $78 Million in Cash Lost During Quake

While their nation drowned, Japanese citizens found it in themselves to honor and respect their neighbors and countrymen.


Japan is known as a society built on respect for others' things. In the days immediately following the country's devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, a Slate article about why the Japanese don't loot noted the strict rules of order that stabilize the island nation: "[I]f you find an umbrella and turn it in to the cops, you get a finder's fee of 5 to 20 percent of its value if the owner picks it up," it said. "If they don't pick it up within six months, the finder gets to keep the umbrella."

These types of traditional official incentives bound the country together during the worst of circumstances. And today we can quantify just how orderly Japan was in time of crisis: According to official police estimates, Japanese citizens have turned in approximately $78 million in cash and valuables found amid the rubble since the earthquake hit five months ago. Found wallets alone contained almost $48 million in cash, while the other $30 million was retrieved from safes washed away by the waves.

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Tsunami-nomics: How the Disaster Could Set the Stage for Japan's Economic Recovery

Japan, having absorbed a massive catastrophe, finds itself with major industries struggling. What's a country to do?



When a massive undersea earthquake struck off the coast of Japan in March, it shook apart cities and created a massive wave that wiped out seaside communities. In the wake of the tragedy—and resulting nuclear disaster—the world focused on emergency measures and human costs. We're just now starting to grapple with the longer-term effects of the tsunami, which are being felt around the world.

Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, is one of the few developed nations to maintain a significant manufacturing and export sector, namely cars and electronics. But the disruptions caused by the earthquakes—infrastructure damage, power outages, and work absences—have hit these industries hard.

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Skate for Japan: The Latest Creative Relief Effort

An event in July will support relief efforts in Japan by auctioning off skate decks designed by San Francisco Bay Area artists and creative agencies.

The creative community's outpouring of support for Japan in the wake of March's devastating tsunami and earthquake has been inspiring. From artists to florists to chefs, creative professionals from diverse backgrounds have lent their talents to the relief effort. GOOD has already covered fundraising initiatives involving Japan-inspired T-shirts, bake sales, posters, and pop-up restaurants, but the latest project that's caught our attention is Plywood for Good.

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